Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her
I sometimes look at my monotonous life of cooking meals and cleaning up and wish I was Nancy Drew. I’d love to drive around in that little blue roadster, and not to mention all that excitement and adventure. When I visit a museum, there are no secret messages passed to people wearing brown hats. Paintings do not come up missing after I leave.
I’m currently reading The Secret of Mirror Bay to my boys, and the setting is very similar to our life here at the lake. But why are there no buried treasures in our lake? There’s nothing there except fish, lily pads, and friendly boaters. I can’t help but look, when I’m out in the canoe, to at least hope to find a long lost piggy bank.
One morning, there was a surprise, though. My son came in to wake me up to tell me some big brown thing floated up on our beach. An animal? What? I grabbed my robe — hoping this was it — something big. Instead, it was just someone else’s boat that had come loose and floated over to our dock. Still, I’d like to strip away all the Technicolor and go back to b&w vintage days.
Nancy Drew and I have a long history that dates back to when I was finally old enough to ride my bike, by myself, to the town library. (Which was also the fire station. Hey, we were lucky to have a library.) The librarian, what was her name, Mrs. Detwiller? It was something like that, had every volume of the Nancy Drew mysteries in stock.
When I read The Secret of the Old Clock I became so frightened that I had to put the book down and find something else to do. I helped my Mom dry the dishes, and tried to calm myself. But the more I thought about it, the more worried I became for Nancy. It was up to me to keep reading so that she could get out of the tower – before it was too late! I had to start turning those pages.
In the The Secret of Mirror Bay, Nancy is visiting there with her Aunt and two friends. But this lake has a woman who mysteriously glides across the water when the morning fog rolls in. The thunderstorms we’ve been having merely add to the ambiance of the story.
I teasingly asked my boys to think of what mystery could be here, at our lake. They’re thinking. And the story has enough props, like a woman who wears stilts in the water because she can’t swim, and a sorcerer in the woods (perhaps where we picked black raspberries?) that screams “Go back to your cabin… trouble there.” And there are luminescent mushrooms in this woods. Never heard of that one. I wonder if the boys can work our skunk into their legend.
From this book, we learned how to make a tourniquet out of grape leaves to stop the poison from spreading after a bite from a toxic centipede. And did you know that “Anyone who has been bitten or stung should move as little and as slowly as possible so the heartbeat will not be stimulated?”
It’s the boy scouts in this story who admit they’re afraid on the mountain and turn around and head back down the hill. This bravery, aside from her politeness and her never ending curiosity, is Nancy’s singular trait, and comes with or without tag-along Ned, the boyfriend. She could care less whether she has a “back-up” to bail her out or not. (A feature that is missing in later revisions of her story.)
But as I read, I realize that Nancy definitely creates the adventure she pulls into her life. She volunteers to scuba dive in the lake to find a hidden treasure. She climbs a mountain in the dark, after she learns there’s some kind of monster at the top. She breaks into a suspect’s house when he’s not home, hides in the closet, and waits for him. OK. Maybe I don’t want to live like Nancy Drew. Because, really, it would just get too complicated trying to keep my boys quiet while I hid in the broom closet. And besides, they’d just starting eating the guy’s Goldfish crackers.
Reading my favorite book, at our own lake house, wrapped in the entertaining mystery that only Carolyn Keene can convey, while thunder crashes and water rolls into the lake around us. This will be a memory I will hold as one of my best times.
Great post, Susie! Makes me want to read them all over again – and you have got to love the older cover art.
Growing up I read ever Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on—I loved this post it gave me the urge to go back and read them again—if I had only kept them.
Gosh now I am just dying to read a Nancy Drew book. I hven’t read one in ages.
Those are some memories to treasure.
How convenient for the weather to turn nasty to create the perfect ambience for a mystery reading.
I love that vintage looking picture 🙂 I loved Nancy Drew too 🙂
Oh, Nancy- who didn’t love her and want to be her? We had an old barn out back and I used to pretend that there were secret messages left by some poor kidnap victim hidden there and it was up to me to figure them out! I even used to keep a notebook of all my supposed mystery adventures…
Ah, those were the good old days…
Thanks for such a beautiful post, Susie- brought back a lot of good memories…
Darling, you are like Nancy. Speeding in your roadster. the wind blowing in your hair, a clever mind and a quick wit. Do you realize what an emancipated young woman she was, very feminine but strong?
Thanks Nanny Molly — I’ll just keep imagining myself that way too. And Regina — I’m so jealous! You’re own NOTEBOOK!! I never thought of that one. You are just too cool for words.
Maybe those re-makes of Nancy Drew should have her “grown up” — you know, as a Mom. Nancy Drew as a Mom… could be interesting, you know.
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